Monday, December 5, 2011

Introspections by Patricia Jones

Nothing too new is happening here. I'm still struggling with marketing ideas, finding the right slot between: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Spacebook, Goodreads, Authors'Den, Premier Writers and so the list goes on. No wonder I'm neurotic. How can I possibly write and blog with all that going on?

Here is another wonderful article by Patricia Jones that I tought would be helpful and that you would enjoy. Introspections describes the different types of confidences writers experience.

By Patricia Ann Jones

Previous Columns

Introspection means, "The examination of one's own thought and feelings." It can also mean, "Self-examination." This column and future columns will deal with PERCEPTIONS of the inner life of writers. The fears writers feel but rarely put into words have a tremendous impact on whether or not success in their chosen profession will be realized.

Self-confidence, too much, or the lack there of, is one area all writers must face head-on. If a writer does not have faith in his or her own work, the written word will reflect that disbelief. Four months ago I chanced upon what I call, "The Tinkerbell Syndrome." In researching this condition, I discovered from other writers that many types of self-confidence exist. "The Tinkerbell" is but one pitfall that derails success in this most competitive profession.

For example, I fall into the category of one who has experienced success as a writer, but who continues to doubt that readers will find my work of interest. I'm a "Tinkerbell" and I've come to grips with that realization.

At this point, let me explain, that Tinkerbell is the pixie in the story of "Peter Pan" who required the audience's applause to believe in herself. The poor tyke literally faded into oblivion when she lost her self-confidence.

To overcome such a problem, the writer must continue to write regardless of his or her feelings of worthlessness. Then, we muster up the courage to submit the written work. It is at this point where Tinkerbell becomes your own worst enemy. I know. I've been there, done that, and suffered the pangs of heartbreaking rejection.

Five years ago, after a blushing success as a nonfiction writer, I gathered up enough spunk to write a novel. I slaved over those 500 pages of manuscript, rewrote until I thought my mind would snap, and then, sent the work to a well-known publishing house. My hopes were high, the work was, I thought, the best I could do.

My pride and confidence (what little I had) went out with the manuscript. The rejection of this first fiction haunts me to this very day. It wasn't just being rejected, but the manner in which it was done that killed my spirit. The editor slammed me against a wall with his hands around my throat and strangled me until I promised myself I'd never again attempt fiction. Of course, he didn't literally do this, but he might as well have. The effect on me, the writer, was physically and mentally devastating. This Tinkerbell faded into oblivion. Only recently enough confidence has returned to take up this manuscript again. I'm rewriting it now because it is a worthy story and one I believe is publishable. I am determined to win, and to change from a Tinkerbell writer into one who believes in what she writes, and this I will do by learning and refining the art of my chosen craft.

Other types of Self-Confidence exist as I stated earlier. There's the "OLD BLACK MAGIC CONFIDENCE." The writer possessing this type of self-belief is charming, self-reliant, and on a natural high. This is the "born writer," the man or woman who writes something wonderful, sticks it in the post with no thought of failure, and sits back confident that soon a check will arrive in the mail, and it does. At the age of 40, James A. Michener did this with his "Tales of the South Pacific," and on his first trip to fortune's well, drew out a Pulitzer Prize.

Writers who have a "RED AND SASSY CONFIDENCE," study their craft, maintain a partially open mind to criticism but retain a "show me your stuff" attitude. These writers make changes only if an editor proves them wrong. They've got brass and dash and know it, but are not set in concrete. Their poise is all but flawless, but they realize they still have much to learn. Ernest Hemingway had a "Red and Sassy" self-confidence. The man never stopped studying and perfecting his work.

My favorite type of self-confidence is "THE ROSY HUED CONFIDENCE." This sweet-faced writer is quick to say, "Okay, so I'm not great, but I'll get better. My mind is a sponge. I'm relying on you to teach me your 'how-to' knowledge. I will listen, learn, and incorporate all you teach me into my work. And, hey, I'll even add a bit of my own positiveness to make it my own." Rosy knows the more she learns about writing, the more there is to learn. She'll make it big someday, because she, like her brother in ink, Mr. Red and Sassy, will never stop learning or writing. Jane Smiley who wrote "A Thousand Acres" and won the National Book Award, is a perfect example of one who holds the Rosy Hued type of self-confidence.

The only form of self-confidence that is worse than Tinkerbell, is "MEAN GREEN." You can't teach this writer anything. He knows all he needs to know. Every word he writes is golden so don't you dare change a word of it. Mean loves to tell editors, "Don't call me, I'll call you!" Oh, yes, he's audacious, he's brazen and cocksure of himself, and doomed to fail in the long-haul of publishing.

I'm sure that all writers reading this column will identify with one or more of the confidences mentioned. Most writers are a combination of these types. Some have the saving grace of The Old Black Magic combined with sweet Rosy. Others fight between Mean Green and Red and Sassy. Only Tinkerbell is out there in the cold, cruel world all alone, flickering in her self-made moonlight. Where are you? What kind of self-confidence drives the engine of your creativity? Most importantly, what are you going to do about it? Think on these questions. If I've given you food for thought, then this column is a success.

(Jones is a book critic for The Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK, and The Camden Times, Camden, New York.)

Copyright 1998 Patricia A. Jones Copyright

Patricia Jones is now retired, but still writing.

So, which type are you? I like to thing of myself as something between the Rosey Hued confidence and (probably) Tinkerbell. Need a lot of back patting, telling me (gently)
that my work is terrific if ONLY I'd change this and this and this and this, and can you cut this scene out as it really doesn't fit?

I'll sign off now with a challenge. Check out this article and decide what kind of confidence you have. It might be an eye-opener.

Patricia A. Guthrie whose still an author and would-be seller of her books and, now, blogger.


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